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Phuket, Day 3: Hampton Morris ends USA’s 55-year wait on day of four world records 

Hampton Morris from the United States made a huge final lift to take the 61kg clean and jerk world record from China’s Olympic champion Li Fabin at the IWF World Cup in Phuket. Winner Li had earlier beaten his own snatch world record, and there were two more world records in the women’s 55kg for Kang Hyon Gyong from DPR Korea.

Morris, the first American man to set a senior world record in 55 years, and John Ceniza from the Philippines both marked themselves out as Olympic medal contenders at this event, the final qualifier for Paris 2024.

Hampton Morris (USA)

For many others it was a struggle. Twelve of the 29 entrants in three 61kg sessions bombed out, including Li’s team-mate Chen Lijun, the 67kg champion in Tokyo, and multiple Olympic medallist Eko Yuli Irawan from Indonesia.

Morris, 20, had already lifted 172kg to break the junior world when he went out for a final attempt at 176kg. In making it he moved up from seventh to second place behind Li in the Paris 2024 rankings. The last American male to break a senior world record was Bob Bednarski in 1969.

“I knew the world record was a possibility,” Morris said. “My coach (his father Tripp) told me that if we knew going into the session that I’d made the Olympic team, we’d just have fun.”

His place in Paris was assured when a brutal B Group ended with only three of nine athletes making a total. There was nobody left to challenge his place in the top 10.

Did Morris have fun?

“Absolutely! I’m just excited, that’s all there is to it. I knew that I was completely capable of the world record before we even arrived here. After the way the second jerk felt at 172, I knew I was going to make it.

“All of us (Morris, his dad, and US coaches Mike Gattone and Pyrros Dimas) knew I was going to go for it at that point.”

Tripp said, “I’ve been thinking for two years that Hamp could break the world record. It’s because of his trajectory in clean and jerk… We’ve just got to get his snatch going now.

“Five days ago in the training hall he made 134-171 and missed 176 in the jerk. This was great, but it wasn’t a surprise.”

Morris finished on 127-176-303, a 6kg improvement on his best qualifying total. Li made 146-166-312, bettering his own world record in snatch and failing with two clean and jerk attempts on 173kg that would have beaten his record on total too.

Li Fabin (CHN)

Pak Myong Jin from DPR Korea was third on his 21st birthday. Pak, who made 131-170-301, is not ranked for the Olympics.

Ceniza was fourth on 132-168-300, a 2kg improvement on his best qualifying effort. He missed the Asian Championships in February to recover from a hip injury.

“Train hard every day, forget your problems, that’s the way to prepare and that’s what I did,” Ceniza said. “It’s my dream to be an Olympian, and to be the first man to win a weightlifting medal for the Philippines.”

Li heads the rankings on 314kg, followed by four others who have broken the 300kg barrier – Morris, the Italian Sergio Massidda, who is entered at 67kg here, Irawan and Ceniza.

Those placed sixth to 10th are Theerapong Silachai from Thailand, Shota Mishvelidze from Georgia, Aniq Kasdan from Malaysia, Trinh Van Vinh from Vietnam and Ivan Dimov from Bulgaria.

Dimov had knee surgery last week and came here to weigh in and protect his eligibility. Arley Calderon from Cuba had a chance to overtake him but he needed to improve his career-best clean and jerk by 7kg and failed, remaining in 11th place.

The continental place goes to Morea Baru from Papua New Guinea, whose 281kg total in the C Group was his best for five years.

Kang Hyon Gyong (PRK)

In the women’s 55kg Kang declined the opportunity to try for the snatch world record. In clean and jerk she made 120kg, jumped straight to 131kg and made the lift to better the clean and jerk and total world records she set at the Asian Games last September. Kang finished 33kg clear on 103-131-234.

Mihaela Cambei from Romania, already assured of a place in Paris at 49kg, moved up here and finished second on 91-110-201, the first time she has totalled more than 200kg in her career. Cambei weighed in at 51.28kg.

Mihaela Cambei (ROU)

Bindyarani Devi from India edged past the Canadian snatch bronze medallist Josee Gallant to finish third on 83-113-196.

By Brian Oliver

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia